This roasted kabocha squash salad with feta is really easy to make and easily adapted. It has a tasty mix of comforting squash and a tangy dressing that works for lunch, as an appetizer or side.
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Winter squash are definitely one of my favorite parts of the cooler seasons. I do like cooking with pumpkin (as you may have noticed, if you’ve looked around here at all), but others vie for my favorite.
Both kabocha and delicata squash are my favorites in their own ways. Since we’ve been in Australia, I have discovered that butternut and kabocha are the ‘staples’ here which I’m pretty happy about. It was a little confusing at first as both are typically called pumpkin, with kabocha usually called a “Kent pumpkin”.
What is kabocha squash?
Kabocha is a variety of hard skinned winter squash. You’ll find a few slight variations, but the most common has a flecked dark green skin. It’s one of the larger squash and is typically pretty wide and slightly stumpy-looking.
One of its few downsides is the skin can be pretty tough to cut through. But once you get inside, just use a vegetable peeler to get the skin off. You are then greeted with the bright orange flesh, similar to butternut, but the flavor, to me, is even better.
Kabocha has a relatively sweet flavor but is less dense than butternut. It’s incredibly versatile and works in both sweet and savory dishes. I really like it for pumpkin risotto as it’s so incredibly smooth and has a great flavor.
It’s a popular squash is Japanese and Korean cooking, where it’s a staple for Autumn. A classic Japanese use for it is kabocha na nimono which is a wonderfully easy umami-packed side dish.
Roasted kabocha squash salad variations
Not long after we moved (in the days when I could go there), I had a salad near the main market that was similar to this. I really enjoyed the mix of soft, comforting roasted squash and slightly salty feta. Some crisp greens, and a flavorful dressing brought it all together.
I knew I needed to make it myself and so this has been a fixture of a few lunches at home since. I have made this with what’s basically a fattoush dressing and the tangy flavor works so well.
The version I have made here is basically a “base salad” that you can either enjoy just as it is or add to as you like. Some potential additions are:
- Pepitas, toasted almonds or other nuts and seeds.
- Other roasted vegetables such as peppers, eggplant or carrots.
- Dried fruit like cranberries or dried cherries (I’d say tart works better).
- Additional crunch such as thinly sliced fennel or some shaved Brussels sprouts.
You can also, of course, change up the greens to be spinach, kale or whatever else you have on hand.
This roasted kabocha squash salad is a wonderful balance of fresh and comforting flavors and textures. It’s great in this simple form, plus really easy to change up as well. So grab your ingredients and give it a try.
Try these other fall-flavored salads:
- Beet apple salad with maple vinaigrette
- Vegan lentil salad with roasted Brussels sprouts and grapes
- Apple celeriac salad with bacon
- Plus get more fall recipes in the archives.
Roasted kabocha squash salad with feta
- 8 oz kabocha squash 230g (peeled and deseeded weight)
- 1 tsp olive oil approx
- 4 oz arugula 115g rocket, or other greens (4cups, approx)
- 2 oz feta 60g
For the dressing
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 ½ tbsp olive oil
- ¼ tsp sumac
- ½ tsp honey
- ½ clove garlic or 1 small
- 1 pinch salt
- Preheat oven to 400F/200C. Peel and de-seed the squash and cut into large bite-sized pieces (around 1in/2.5cm cubes).
- Place the pieces of squash on a baking sheet/tray and drizzle over the oil. Toss them so that they are evenly coated. If needed, add a little more oil but they only need to be lightly coated. Roast the squash for approx 30-40 minutes until they are tender and only just starting to brown on the edges.
- Allow the squash to cool to room temperature – you can cook it ahead of time and refrigerate it in a container a day or two until needed.
To make salad
- Divide the arugula/rocket between two plates (or one larger dish to serve from). Break up the feta into little chunks and sprinkle over the arugula. Place the cooled squash chunks over as well.
- Put all of the dressing ingredients (lemon, oil, sumac, honey, garlic, garlic and salt) in a small bowl or jar and whisk or shake them to combine well. Drizzle it over the salad and serve.
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